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Warren County – Route 624 (Morgan Ford Road) bridge replacement

Project Photos

Project at a Glance

Begin Date
Contract awarded Jan. 29, 2016

Est Completion Date
May 30, 2018

Contract Value $4,886,508.07

Lengths and Limits
0.4 mile long; From: Route 643 To: 0.4-mile north of Route 643

Orders Construction Co. Inc., St. Albans, W.Va.



Robbie Good

Project Details

The low-water bridge over the Shenandoah River on Route 624 was replaced with a new two-lane bridge. The project is about 0.4 mile long, from Route 643 (Howellsville Road) to 0.4-mile north of Route 643.

Surrounding the bridge are easements with the Virginia Outdoor Foundation (VOF) on the north side and Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) property on the south side. The Morgan Ford public boat landing is on the southeastern side of the existing bridge.

The original multi-span bridge was a single-lane structure built in 1925, which is 321-feet long with a single 11-foot wide lane. The new bridge is a two-lane structure at the same location following the existing roadway alignment.

Approximately 480-feet long, the new bridge has a 22-foot wide travel way. The roadway approaches varying between 22 and 24 feet. Ditches were provided where needed.

While not wide enough for a sidewalk or formal bike lanes, there are no restrictions placed on pedestrians or bicyclists from utilizing the new bridge.

In 2012, the traffic count on this portion of Route 624 was 1,876 vehicles per day. This number is projected to increase to 3,005 in the year 2035.

Media and Public Events

Design public hearing
Wednesday, Feb. 4, 2015, 4 - 7 p.m.
North Warren Fire Department
89 Rockland Road
Front Royal, Virginia 22630
Inclement weather date: Wednesday, Feb. 11, 2015, 4 - 7 p.m. Same location.

Citizen information meeting
Wednesday, Nov. 14, 2012, 4 – 7 p.m.
Front Royal Volunteer Fire and Rescue Department
C. W. Turner Banquet Hall
221 Commerce Ave.
Front Royal, Virginia 22630

Citizen information meeting:
Wednesday, Feb. 3, 2010, 4 – 7 p.m.
North Warren Fire Department
89 Rockland Road
Front Royal, Virginia  22630

Project Benefits

This project replaced an existing low-water and substandard narrow bridge over the Shenandoah River.

The new bridge is several feet higher than the existing structure and will provide a safer passage for traffic.  

Situations where water flows over top the new bridge will occur less often than overtopping on the old bridge.

Frequently Asked Questions

Will the project disturb Smoketown, an early settlement in the area? 

No. While the remains of Smoketown may be nearby, the archaeological investigation of the project area, including the south bank of the river, found no evidence of that settlement within the small area to be disturbed by construction.

Will the project hinder use of the Department of Game and Inland Fisheries (DGIF) boat launch facility? 

For safety reasons, the river access is temporarily closed during this project. Canoes and kayaks will not be able to pass through the construction zone. 

DGIF provides public access to the Shenandoah River near Route 340 at Riverton, and near Route 50 at Berry's Ferry.

For the long term, VDOT is collaborating closely with DGIF to enhance access to the boat launch facility and to provide ample, safe access under the bridge for users of the river and facility who presently must portage canoes and boats across Route 624.

Will the project interfere with swimming, picnicking, and other recreational activities at the DGIF boat launch? 

The DGIF boat launch is to be used exclusively for boating and fishing as its operation is funded by licenses for those activities. All other uses of that area do not conform to that facility’s official purpose.

In addition, fishing from bridges is illegal in Virginia, except in circumstances defined by state law. No such circumstances exist here.

How wide is the replacement bridge?

A design exception was obtained so that VDOT could construct the bridge significantly narrower than VDOT’s minimum design standards for this roadway. It will have a roadway width of 22 feet, 18 feet narrower than a two-lane bridge built to current design standards.

Will VDOT’s design prevent pedestrians and bicycles from crossing the river? 

No. While not wide enough for a sidewalk or formal bike lanes, there are no restrictions placed on pedestrians or bicyclists from utilizing the new bridge. VDOT’s design is an improvement over existing conditions.

Why is VDOT not providing a sidewalk for pedestrians on the bridge? 

The width of the bridge is constrained by conservation easements on the north bank of the river that VDOT cannot encroach upon.

The roadway does not provide dedicated pedestrian facilities. However, more space is proposed than the current bridge for non-vehicular use. No restrictions are placed on pedestrians or bicyclists from utilizing the proposed bridge.

How did VDOT determine the height of the proposed bridge?

The height of the bridge was influenced by several design requirements.

These included providing ample room for boaters and canoeists to safely pass under the structure as coordinated with DGIF, to minimize overtopping events and closure time, and to avoid increasing the 100-year flood elevation and associated impacts to upstream properties.

The proposed height of the bridge satisfies all of these requirements.

Is VDOT’s bridge a “cookie cutter” design?

No. Not only is it one of the narrowest bridges designed in decades, it incorporates a railing design developed for scenic areas that is unique in the commonwealth.

Did VDOT study the environmental impacts of its project?

Yes. VDOT compiled environmental documentation for the Federal Highway Administration covering a wide range of environmental issues, including threatened and endangered species, historic properties, air quality, and wetland and stream impacts.

Did VDOT give fair consideration to the Piedmont Environmental Council’s (PEC) alternative design concept? 

Yes. VDOT carefully considered all of the PEC’s suggestions and the department’s detailed response is available here.

Some of the PEC’s suggestions have been incorporated to make the project more harmonious with the Rockland Rural Historic District and the scenic character of the river crossing.

Why has it taken so long to get the bridge going?

The last citizen information meeting was November 2012. VDOT has been working with stakeholders on this project in an attempt to find common ground on a wide range of issues.

During that process, the PEC put forth an alternative design concept, and we spent time incorporating various elements of that into the current VDOT bridge design.

Additionally, a Memorandum of Agreement was needed to document commitments to mitigate impacts to the Rockland Rural Historic District.

Those commitments include some aspects of roadway design and traffic calming, heritage-tourism signage, documentation of the existing bridge and other historic resources.

What are the final steps before construction?

The public hearing comment period ended on Feb. 14, 2015, and those comments were reviewed. Citizen input and bridge design plans were presented to the VDOT chief engineer for final design approval.

Right of way work began later in 2015, with construction from 2016 to early 2018.

Key Dates

Public hearing – Feb. 4, 2015
Right of way activities – 2015
Construction – Spring 2016

Project Numbers

State project: 0624-093-192, P101, R201, M501, B625
Federal project: STP-093-8(013)
UPC: 77272

Project location (latitude, longitude): 38.958056, -78.122222

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Page last modified: June 11, 2018